When solving a problem, it’s easy to get lost in the process. As more variables are introduced, it can be hard to keep everything straight and predict where you’ll end up. This is especially prevalent in UX or service design projects where astute organization and accurate documentation mean the difference between an innovative solution and absolute failure.
It’s 3 months after your company’s new product launches and there seems to be an ominous feeling permeating through the cubicle walls. Then it hits your inbox, an email emblazoned with a red exclamation point and the subject line “ATTN Product Team: Staff Meeting.” Clicking in, you see the somewhat passive-aggressive message from your director stating that the team is about to get slammed. The product launch has been a near failure and changes need to be made ASAP. It’s crunch time.
A picture is worth a thousand words. This is a phrase we have all heard at least a thousand times, but sometimes we need to be reminded that a picture is more than just what meets the eye. Only a little over 100 years ago, people believed that everything they saw in photographs was true. As long as the photograph was taken where and when the caption says it was, it was generally thought to be accurate and, at times, even more reliable than the testimony of a human eye witness (Ritchin, 1985). This mindset is now few and far between in today’s society. Nothing – not even a smiling selfie – can be published without meeting extreme scrutiny from the receiving public.
When we create projects within a team – especially those that take months to complete – we fall victim to the worst thing imaginable if we don’t user test: failing to actually solve the problem we were supposed to. But how could that be? You’ve worked for hundreds of hours to solve that PARTICULAR issue for your target audience. Your team has gone back and forth with revisions, and leadership approved of the final product. How could you actually fail to produce something that doesn’t yield success?
If there is one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that paper rules. Paper houses the scribed words of history, brings joy through art, and helps us document our life experiences. While many people believe that paper is falling to the wayside due to the digital revolution, paper is still as relevant now as it was centuries ago. Think about it. The physical presence of one piece of paper is enough to qualify a human being. A birth certificate, a diploma, a resume, a marriage license, a letter of recommendation. The list goes on. It’s amazing how this material can stimulate creativity or rigidity – just by how we envision its purpose.
Our lives are completely run by apps on our phones. Let me explain…
Every morning, I wake up and turn off the alarm on my phone. I then check my notifications, which usually consist of emails in my inbox, social media likes/comments, and messages from friends who think its socially acceptable to start a conversation at 3 AM. When I arrive at work, I frequently check Whatsapp in case my boss had to share something on the fly with me. Throughout the day, I browse Instagram, LinkedIn, and Buzzfeed. These “app breaks” are almost like those a smoker would take. Just being able to scroll mindlessly helps me decompress.
I’m standing in the kitchen at one of my friend’s houses and from my position, I can see a movie playing in the living room. The dialogue sounds vaguely familiar…The characters too, but I’m not about to disturb the viewing family in order to find out what’s playing. So I wait until a snack break and ask. Oh right, how could I forget Mad Max?